Wallace Wylie

Top 10 Disney Songs of All Time

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By Wallace Wylie

Walt Disney was beloved by the world, except when he was perpetuating racial stereotypes and buddying up with anti-Semites. Yes, in terms of evil Americans Walt seems to come second only to Henry Ford. To deny his racial stereotyping is absurd, especially in the face of blatant evidence. When watching Peter Pan with my daughter for the first time I felt ill upon hearing ‘What Made the Red Man Red?’ It was not a favourite in my household so I had no memory of anything that happened in the movie. God, what the fuck were they thinking? Without denying these troubling elements of the Disney movies I would still like to attempt an appreciation of the music. We may hit some choppy waters but there is still much to admire in the music and animation. Here’s my vote for Top 10 Disney songs of all time.

10. ‘The Phony King Of England’ from Robin Hood

A rip-roaring sing along perhaps more famous for the fact that in the animation that accompanied the music the Disney animators reused animation from older movies in order to save money. This meant little to me as a child and it means even less now. The first of many appearances in the Top 10 by Phil Harris, who here voices the character of Little John.

9. ‘Prince Ali’ from Aladdin

This is Robin Williams’ best role, hands down. What’s that you say? You find Robin Williams irritating? Check this out – I don’t care. Only the most mean-spirited misanthrope could not find delight in this song. Actually, I’m a mean-spirited misanthrope and I love this song, so if you don’t enjoy it I suppose that just makes you a chump. Oh and when the characters start commentating on the parade it is one of the funniest moments in any Disney movie ever. Don’t they look lovely June?

8. ‘Bare Necessities’ from The Jungle Book

Pure joy. I remember with great clarity re-watching The Jungle Book aged 16 and being almost in tears so important was this movie to my childhood. The story was of course adapted from the book by staunch imperialist and inventor of racist terminology Rudyard Kipling. Is there no peace for my inner child? Not really, but ‘Bare Necessities’ is relatively innocent and it has an addictive glee that is impossible to resist. Well, I dare say there could be good reasons for resisting it but my inner child feels only happiness at this songs existence. Phil Harris again.

7. ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ from Snow White

Now this is a melody. Somewhere along the way Disney songwriters lost the ability to write a moving ballad and everything became schmaltz. Not here though. Listen to how the melody surges ever onward, mirroring the inner yearnings of the heart and its innocent pleas. Compare this to the constricted and ugly melody to ‘Part Of Your World’ from The Little Mermaid and you’ll immediately understand the loss in quality. Glorious.

6. ‘Everybody Wants To Be A Cat’ from The Aristocats

Scatman Crothers and Phil Harris trade off on this hymn to hep cats and cool times. The song is almost destroyed by more awful racial stereotypes, this time of the Asian variety. The Disney company was nothing if not equal opportunity in its determination to offend every non-white person on the planet. Ignore if you can the ugliness that occasionally creeps up and instead revel in the brilliant songwriting. Fun Fact: Phil Harris’s real first name was Wonga.

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